Johnnie Cochran meets O.J. Simpson at the jail with a spread of suits and accessories appropriate for a photo shoot. It’s a big day, the last day that the defense will present its, well, defense.
In the courtroom, O.J. wants to make a statement. He says he “did not, could not and would not” commit the crimes he is accused of. The defense, finally, rests.
At Cochran’s office, his associates are worried about his safety. He’s received 20 death threats. Cochran is oblivious and unbothered. He’s holed up in his office working on his closing statement.
At the district attorney’s office, Gil Garcetti asks Marcia Clark to nail her closing statement. Um … yeah. I’m pretty sure that was her goal, Captain Obvious. To Clark’s credit, she rises to the occasion. She points out the “ocean” of evidence showing O.J.’s guilt using a pyramid chart. It’s compelling.
Christopher Darden closes, too, describing O.J. as a “ticking time bomb.” Darden says the case isn’t about the “n-word,” but the “m-word: murder.” I see what he did there. Nice work. O.J. weeps. O.J.’s mama looks distressed. I wonder if she thinks her son did it.
For a moment, Cochran looks shaken by the defense’s close. But it’s just a moment. Cochran launches into full-on Cochran glory. He says that Detective Mark Fuhrman represents the entire Los Angeles Police Department and the jury must say, “No more.” “If you don’t stop this cover-up, who will?” Cochran asks the jury. “Send them a message!”
The trial is (finally) over, and it’s finally time for the jury to deliberate. Ten people think O.J. is guilty. Two don’t. The majority of the jurors say the prosecution didn’t prove its case. The holdouts quickly cave. Someone calls Judge Lance Ito to tell him that the jury’s reached a verdict.
Ito: Are you s—tting me?
It’s only been four hours. Robert Shapiro says the jury has “discussed this case less than anybody in America.” Welp.
Cochran has the Fruit of Islam protecting him as he heads to court to hear the verdict. An angry Shapiro—who, by the way, is Jewish—accuses Cochran of heading to the courthouse with “strident black extremists!”
This is TV gold!!
It’s mayhem outside the courthouse and around the country. There’s actual footage from the ’90s showing folks anticipating the O.J. verdict. Aw, look! It’s Oprah!
Everyone’s back in court looking like nervous people trying not to look nervous. Hell, I’m nervous like I don’t know the verdict. Clark and O.J. both look like they are about to cry.
The verdict is “not guilty.” Surprise, surprise.
Robert Kardashian hurls in the bathroom. Outside, black people are celebrating, and there’s a chicken dancing in the street.
At a press conference, Garcetti says they are “profoundly disappointed” and the jury’s decision was based on emotion and not reason. Darden says that this verdict was his worst fear come true. He breaks down and just walks off to hug the Goldmans.
Cochran walks through the courthouse until he finds Darden. Cochran says that he would like to help bring Darden back into the community. Darden says he never left. And he pops Cochran’s bubble: “This [verdict] isn’t some civil rights milestone,” he tells Cochran. “Police will keep killing us. You haven’t changed anything for black people here, unless, of course, you’re a famous, rich one in Brentwood.”
That was a read.
Unbothered, Cochran arrives at his office and discovers that everyone on TV is talking about LAPD corruption, even then-President Bill Clinton. Watching Clinton, Cochran says, “That’s the victory” and sheds a tear. “The story is out of the shadows.”
Clark is still at the office, where she can hear people outside celebrating the verdict. Darden swings by and says he’s quitting. He says that he was always too good for this. Not as in too competent, but inherently too good. Clark says she’s quitting, too. Off into the sunset they go (for a drink).
Kardashian is waiting for O.J. at the jail exit. O.J. says it’s time to celebrate and he’s throwing “the party of the century” at his house. Star magazine is paying $400,000 for photos. As they approach Brentwood, O.J. is shocked to see people protesting his return to the neighborhood.
At the house, O.J.’s family is waiting for him, minus his two youngest kids. The Browns, who have been keeping the children while their father was locked up for killing their mother and Ron Goldman, didn’t want to bring them by. I don't blame them.
Later, as a free man for the first time in over a year, O.J. loses it in his bedroom. I imagine that the weight of the trial finally being over just hit him. Or he’s reliving the night he killed his ex-wife and Goldman and he can’t believe he got off.
There’s a knock at the door. It’s O.J.’s son Jason. He brought his dad a puppy “to make sure he always had a friend.” Jason gets what his dad is up against. O.J. is still in denial.
It’s party time. There are lots of people at the house, and O.J. barely knows anyone there. Even house guest Kato Kaelin skipped the festivities. O.J. makes a speech. He says he will look for the real killer of his wife and her friend. There’s lukewarm applause.
A.C. realizes that something’s wrong and people aren’t feeling O.J. anymore. Finally, O.J. realizes it, too, especially when Kardashian abruptly leaves the party. O.J.’s got freedom and, for now, his money, but no friends.
He wanders outside to the statue of himself in the yard. It’s a moment of truth. The man vs. the myth that’s been destroyed. Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” drops as O.J. stares at his past. This is a brilliant ending to what has been a glorious miniseries.
O.J., who was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery and kidnapping in a sports-memorabilia case, is eligible for parole in 2017. I wonder if a parole board will let the Juice loose?
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.